- October - and Big November News!
A couple of weeks late with this month's blog - but for very good reasons. Well, I think so anyway. I was hanging on in there for the UK Dating Awards on Thursday 13th November. This is the first year of an Awards Ceremony that celebrates achievement right across the dating industry, from bloggers and journalists to major online dating companies. I was up for Dating Expert of the Year - an honour enough to be nominated, but I was absolutely thrilled to win! While I have been a Dating Coach for over 10 years now, I was up against some formidable and well-respected individuals, so had warned those lovely people who were kind enough to come along and support me to brace themselves for disappointment. But I was wrong - and am delighted to have won, especially in their first year.
October is always a busy month, not just for dating coaching with all those singles hoping to find love before Christmas but there's a frenzy of PR activity this month too.
Many of you will know me more for being a psychologist (or maybe just a reality TV tweeter!?) rather than a dating expert, but I tend to specialise in relationships of one sort of another. In fact quite a lot of my media work this month has been dating/relationship based from discussing sexting on Channel Five News, dating trends for 2015 for Glamour magazine and why we lose weight when we fall in love for Good Morning Britain where I was on the sofa with Big Brother's Josie Gibson, looking both svelte and beautiful these days. I also had an interesting debate on online dating with a couple of journalists on Voice of Russia radio. It wasn't live and got quite heated - in the nicest possible way - but I did feel for the poor editor who had to cut our 'enthusiasm' down to just a half hour programme!
Other TV worked included being back on my favourite telly sofa, This Morning, doing a feature and a phone in on how to cope with stress and recognise the signs of a nervous breakdown.
Writing wise, I have contributed to The Daily Telegraph and Woman's Own this month. The latter, oddly, on why Lorraine Kelly is so disliked. I didn't know she was to be honest - always seems like a genuine, old-school presenter to me. It seems she's not touchy-feely enough for some, which leads some viewers to distrust her. Who knew ;-)?
And always a pleasure to write my regular body language column in New! magazine and now Katie Price has resurfaced, post her umpteenth baby, it was good to be writing about her again. I'd almost forgotten how much time she takes up in my celebrity psychology remit...
And of course tis the season for reality TV, which keeps me busy at work and at play. A bit disappointed by this year's X Factor contestants (singing wise, not psychologically!) but I'm hoping the gorgeous Fleur will win. Unfortunately - and those who know me will confirm this - I rarely manage to predict any winners of these shows. Just as well I am a psychologist not not a psychic ;-)
Tonight sees the launch of the daddy of all reality TV shows, I'm a Celebrity which is always a red letter day in TV watching calendar, so on that note, I'll sign off and see some of you on Twitter laters.
Well, that's it - September done and and dusted. Is it just me or did it disappear in a flash? Least it was a warm, dry flash. I even managed to catch a few days away, early in the month, in my beloved Fethiye. Feeling Turkish sun on my skin, especially when cooled by a gentle sea breeze (both of the alcoholic and non alcoholic sort!) somehow seems a whole lot more pleasant than the sticky, city-summer sort. But back to work...
September is one of my busiest coaching months. It's a combination of singles who don't want to spend another summer alone - and are perhaps looking forward to having something more than a simple gift to unwrap this Christmas - and couples, who have spent a two-week holiday together, often in that place called abroad where wifi/social media can be sparse - deciding that their relationship isn't quite what it used to be.
However busy I am, I'll always make time to be back on my favourite TV sofa at This Morning. In the wake of the DLT conviction, I was discussing sexual harassment. Quite different from sexual abuse of course and I was surprised - and saddened - to get so many calls and emails on the phone in part of the show, which focused on sexual abuse and the subsequent trauma that goes with that. But I finally got to meet Amanda Holden, who is standing in for Holly Willoughby while she's on maternity leave. I reckon she did a great job, though she's a tiny slip of a thing - I had to try to concentrate and not stare at her ;-)
Writing this month has been as varied as ever. From my regular column on what's-really-going-on body language shenanigans of celebrities in New! to writing about how those same sort of celebs might be feeling after their intimate photos were hacked and published for The Sun. I enjoyed my piece for Glamour especially on 'common sex problems in 2014' which included not being fearful of 'dirty' talk with your partner and encouraging him to share and enjoy your sex toys. Not sure why these are particularly pertinent to 2014, they seem perennial concerns to me!
One of the strangest features I contributed to this month was on how to deal with potentially strained relationships between Scotland and England post referendum for The Daily Telegraph. And also between neighbours/family/friends amongst the Scots themselves. While I am used to dealing with difficult relationships in my everyday professional life, I think it's the first time I've been asked to comment on a potential break up between two countries!
I also wrote for The Sunday Times in their Style Magazine on whether there is a sociopath in your marriage. A relatively light-hearted feature (well as light-hearted as sociopathy can be!) to help promote the launch of Gone Girl in the cinema. I loved the book and looking forward to seeing the film on Sunday.
So, that's a brief summary of September. More next month - meanwhile I'll be on Twitter @TVPsychologist wibbling along with the rest of you about Strictly, X Factor and the other reality TV that is our viewing consolation when summer draws to a close.
- July and August
I haven't written a blog for a few weeks, so it's good to be back. As well as July and August being quieter months media and client wise, I was struck down by some mysterious illness for several weeks, which was a bit unpleasant. Doc thought it might be Crohn's, but tests show not thankfully - so hopefully just a one-off. Anyway back to rude health now ;-)
I've still managed to fit in various TV programmes (the wonder of those make up girls, making me look half-decent even if I didn't feel it!) including a number of Sky News appearances varying from the MND Ice Bucket Challenge to digital mourning, following the untimely and sad death of Robin Williams.
Writing included a piece for the Daily Express on the 25th anniversary of 'When Harry Met Sally' (yes, I couldn't quite believe that either), The Times on retirement home options and why we should talk about it sooner rather than later and Mother and Baby on tribal baby names. As ever, my workload is always diverse.
I also gave a talk at Latitude Festival on dating and body language which was fun. And what a great festival it is - music, comedy, literary stuff, even dance. Well worth a visit if you get a chance. I was most excited about getting a T-shirt with my name on the back, even if it is in the smallest ever print, way down towards the bottom ;-)
I've also done a few guest slots on LBC, a radio station I love. Hopefully I will have some exciting news to impart on that soon - but for now I'll just say keep your fingers crossed for me!
I also continue to write my New! magazine column most weeks - amazingly while I have managed to cover the body language and behaviour of a number of celebrities, I only wrote about Katie Price once. It must be a quiet time for her. Or maybe she was having a baby. Or something.
And it wouldn't be right to sign off without thanking my loyal Twitter followers for sticking with me through my Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother rants. The editing is often questionable and there are at least three CBB contestants who would never have passed the psych tests back in C4 days! I'd love to work for C5 again, but think they need to clean up their act contestant wise - it may be entertaining but it can also be deeply uncomfortable viewing.
Anyway on that note, I'll sign off. Until next month we can keep in touch on Twitter @TVPsychologist.
- June newsletter
Hope you're enjoying this fine weather. As I sit here writing this, the sun is looking very tempting, but with a few clients today and even more deadlines, it'll just have to stay that way...
Of course, last month saw the start of Big Brother again. And much as I grizzle about the housemates and say that I won't get back into it again, it's been as irresistible as ever and I find myself caught up once again. Though I am off on holiday on Friday for 10 days, followed by doing a session on dating and body language at Latitude Festival, so I'll just have to learn to deal with any withdrawal symptoms ;-) For those of you who ask me why I am not on BBBOTS (and thank you for that) it's a bit complicated, but in essence I don't entirely agree with the way they choose/treat HM's (as you'll know from my tweets!) and anyway, it's much more fun not having any restrictions on what I can actually say about them...
As far as work is concerned, June was a busy month for all sorts of reasons, and it seems to be a really popular month for singles who want to get some advice on dating. I guess there's the whole summer stretching ahead of them. It gets much quieter during July and August, for obvious reasons, so if any of you would like some Dating Coaching, I am offering a 20% discount during those months. You know where to find me!
I was back on my favourite TV sofa a couple of weeks ago, discussing marriage sabbaticals on This Morning. I don't think they're a good idea and would be reluctant to ever suggest one to my clients, as it think that one partner often has some sort of an agenda, it masks - rather than directly deals with - the issues in your relationship and it's a pretty risky strategy. I was also on Sky News this week, discussing that blatant intrusion of user's privacy, where Facebook manipulated posts in order to test emotional reaction. Without actual informed consent, studies like these really violate users privacy and are considered pretty worthless psychologically.
I did a study for Last Minute - which did have the informed consent of the participants - on how spontaneity affects couples relationships. It was a two week study and clearly showed that while a degree of planned spontaneity is really positive for your relationship, too much unpredictability has the opposite effect. Anyway, it certainly raised some interest and I wrote features on it for the Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, The Sun and Female First amongst others.
I was also the psychologist for a great PR job with Simply Juice, which saw me working alongside such luminaries as Victoria Pendleton and Dr Christian as well as a fabulous nutritionist and a fitness expert. There was a lot of tummy sucking going on from me during both the photoshoot and the media day ;-)
I've also written for My Daily on whether WAGS are redundant now (given our abysmal world cup performance, I guess that has to be a 'yes'!) and Red on how to embrace - rather than fight - the changes that happen as we get older. And a piece on Jennifer Aniston's body language for New! She certainly gives the 'ownership' gesture a run for its money. Which would imply that she's not as secure in her relationship with Justin as she'd like to think.
I am also just about to write for New! again this afternoon. And, no surprise here, on Katie Price once again who has been using her radio show to give her, er, candid views on her ex-best pal's (the one that cheated with her husband) looks/age/appearance etc. Love her or loathe her, there's never a dull moment in Katie's life - and I have must have written about her way more than any other celebrity, ever!
Anyway, work to be done. Not to mention washing and packing. Have a good couple of weeks, keep me Twitter posted on Big Bro and I'll see you next month.
- May - nearly done already...
Hope this post finds you well. Sun just beginning to seep through some late afternoon haze, so let's hope we all have a good weekend weather wise.
Another busy month work wise. I have been doing a lot of PR in the last few weeks, one of the things that I really enjoy, though rarely mention in my newsletters. Being an expert for a new brand or product launch, usually involves getting stuck into a survey and giving my expert comment on the findings. Then they launch the Press Release into the media and fix up radio interviews, which are always fun. Sometimes the radio interviews can be literally back to back for several hours, a mix of pre-records and live, and I have a few favourite presenters that I am always happy to talk to, whatever the subject. Occasionally, the agencies are lucky enough to secure a TV interview too, which is how I found myself discussing the World Cup (or at least the fibs we tell, to make sure we can watch it) with Eamonn Holmes on Sky Sunrise last week. Now, for those that know me - via Twitter or anywhere else - you know that I am pretty clueless about football, so just feel grateful I didn't get asked any 'awkward' questions about the game itself! I also wrote a piece on my psychological interpretation of Ronaldo for The Sun, so maybe it's shaping up to be a football shaped summer for all of us.
I started the month by going on Good Morning Britain (Day 2, no less) which I was very excited about, as really wanted to see the new team/set in action. Sadly, I was discussing PTSD that those poor children must have been suffering after their teacher was stabbed to death. A distressing subject which understandably took a lot of the glitz off my excitement...
It's also been something of a torrid time for Katie Price. Whatever you think of her - and I know there's a lot of divided opinions out there - to be betrayed by both your husband and your best friend must be pretty devastating, especially when you're six months pregnant. I managed to take a week's holiday in my beloved Fethiye earlier this May and although it was rainy most of the time (definitely not what was ordered!) I had the slightly surreal experience of being called up by the Sunday Mirror on my views on why she seems to have such disastrous relationships, while on a boat trip in the middle of the Med on one of the few sunny days! The story continues to unravel, getting more graphic and bizarre by the moment, so I have also written something on her for next week's New! magazine.
In fact I seem to be writing for New! most weeks now on celebrities, which I love and have covered Kimye's marriage and that bizarre lift encounter with Beyonce. Solange and Jay-Z this month. Which I also wrote about for Look magazine and The Daily Express. There's never a dull moment in la-la land ;-)
So until the next celebrity meltdown, I'll sign off now. Have a great weekend!
- An April catch up
Here I am sitting in my office on a dark, dreary afternoon, catching up on the past few weeks, wondering what happened to that blissful weather of just a few weeks ago. I was all set for a seriously long, seriously hot Spring and Summer...
It's been a diverse few weeks news wise. Perhaps the most shocking of all, was the tragic and untimely death of Peaches Geldof. My heart goes out to her family in this most difficult of times. The death, sudden or otherwise, of a child is something that no parent should have ever have to go through. Like many people with children of a similar age, I felt like I wanted to scoop up my grown-up boys and swaddle them in protection. While I often have to appear on TV when celebrities die in unexpected circumstances, it is perhaps the one aspect of my job that I really don't care for...
However, I did enjoy doing a dash from the BBC to ITV news to double-cover the 'conscious uncoupling' statement put out by Gwyneth Paltrow regarding her split from Chris Martin. For those that know me, I really can't be doing with that kind of woo-woo turn of phrase. Apart from the fact that I think it simply means an 'amicable separation', I was a bit concerned that I'd use the phrase 'unconscious coupling' which sounds like a Daily Mail headline in protest against the loose morals of binge-drinking Britain!
TV wise I was also back on the sofa at This Morning last week - a show where the staff and presenters are always so welcoming - discussing the seven-year itch. Apart from the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that it exists and most marriages that end in the first 10 years do so between the third and and the sixth year, it is actually named after a skin infection that took seven years to clear up!
I have also been doing my usual round of writing and contributing to various newspapers and magazines. I even had a special coaching profile in Prima which has brought in some new clients. I have also written about whether it really takes 12 minutes to decide on whether a date is for you (no, probably much less) for The Daily Telegraph, the impact of selfies on body image for Top Sante, why couples who work out together, stay together for Fabulous and a feature on the new, anonymous social media confessional that is Whispers, for The Sun. And also an interesting feature on those who with divorced parents who wish their parents had separated earlier for You magazine. And my usual bit of celebrity body language for New magazine.
Perhaps my highlight of the month was being voted one of the Top 30 Most Influential Psychologists on Twitter, by an American psychology website. I was thrilled to come in at No. 17 and then I realised that most of them were actually from the USA and in fact, I was No. 2 in the UK! Clearly, I spend way too much time wibbling on Twitter and it's both worrying and wonderful to think I may have some actual influence ;-)
I'll sign off now. Have a fabulous weekend.
- Spring has finally sprung...
I notice as I write this newsletter, that I may be a bit hasty with these words. While I was eager to get into 'summer plumage' last week, I am now getting some odd looks as well as feeling a bit nippy...
A busy month has flown by and being a summer person, I can't wait until the clocks go forward at the end of the month. Unfortunately, this coincides with Mother's Day and while it will be lovely to see my two boys, punctuality isn't one of their strengths, so robbing them of a precious hour's sleep will probably mean lunchtime gently slides into the early evening.
As ever, I have written a lot about celebrities this month. Whether on why celebs turn to heroin for Now magazine, Rihanna and Drake for Look or Lauren Goodger for Reveal, there's never a dull moment. I especially enjoyed attempting to do a 'Freudian analysis' (on request) for Nuts on a series of images from Miley Cyrus's last tour. I mean where do you start? Sometimes it's like an addiction to be more shocking than anyone else, and like any addiction it can easily spiral out of control or you simply can't contain the need to do more, to satisfy the cravings. She's an interesting one, for sure.
There's been a lot of focus on body image at the moment and I was interested to see that the Girl Guides had adopted a new badge this week to help girls aspire to accepting their looks. This has come in for a fair bit of inevitable criticism, suggesting that it simply draws attention to the problems, but truth is, we don't live in a bubble and it's hard to avoid the concerns that young girls have about the way that they look.
I also get asked a lot at the moment by my coaching clients about the 'lookist' nature of online dating and does it always have to be all about the photos? In truth, I think it does - whether I agree with it or not. The whole online dating approach is set up to judge someone on their looks primarily, whatever their profile says, although there are tips and techniques I give to try and divert someone's attention to profile and ultimately personality. I did an interesting feature for the Daily Mirror on this a couple of weeks ago, using six different images/dating profiles of the same woman, looking very different in all her pics. Whatever was said in her profile, the more glamorous/scantily clad she was, the more responses she got... I also did something on the new wave of dating apps like Tinder for Sky.
I've also written in the past couple of weeks for Top Sante on the relationship between mood and exercise, Marie Claire on why you shouldn't feel guilty about having a crush and Reveal on the insecurities associated with the trend for celebrities - and other girls - to paint themselves up as doll-like as possible.
TV has been busy these past few weeks as well. Always good to do some of the behind the scenes analysis and advice but fun to be on screen as well. I did a couple of Daily Ding-dongs for The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Probably fairly predictable that I lost the debate on whether pre-nups are a good idea (yes, why not?) but won when suggesting that there was no real excuse for removing your wedding ring for social or work reasons!
And my beloved Twitter celebrates its 8th Birthday this week. With a helpful page on how you can find your first tweet. Have you checked yours? Mine now seems really dated, something about Katie Price getting married to Alex Reid. How long ago does that seem!? At least it wasn't 'Hi I am on Twitter' which seems to be the standard announcement for lots of people ;-)
Right a glass of wine and Sport Relief is calling me. Have a lovely weekend.
- The busiest month of the year - done!
Three weeks have passed since my last newsletter - and what a three weeks they have been! January is always my busiest month of the year. Lots of new Dating Coach clients looking for love and a few relationships that need patching up after Christmas.
But after a sluggish December, as ever, media always wakes up with a roar in January. Everything from TV and radio to magazines and celebrity news stories just seem to come back to life with a rush.
In the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to write for magazines such as Woman, Reveal, Love It and Heat on subjects ranging from Justin Bieber's latest showdown, the impact of their current sabbatical on One Direction to what makes us happy and why women of a certain age seem to suddenly find other women sexually attractive. There's never a dull moment...
And talking of dull moments, I am still mourning the loss of Celebrity Big Brother. Glued to my TV for 3.5 weeks, I can't help feeling that we'll never see the like of that series again. Way too many highlights to dwell on here, but I know that I can never 'unsee' 82 year old Lionel Blair dressed in full bondage kit asking for his 'bitches'! And who could have imagine that a sexist, chauvinistic, homophobic old codger, whose humour was dodgy back in the non-PC 70's, could triumph and win the show over a bunch of current reality TV stars. You couldn't make it up!
I wrote a number of times for the Daily Star for the series, sometimes finding it difficult to cram all I had to say in just a few hundred words. And for those who didn't watch it (why not??) thank you for bearing with me over all those tweets every night. My timeline was on fire!
Lots of radio this month too. I especially enjoyed being on Woman's Hour talking about the screaming hysteria of girl fans (yes, we're back to One Direction here) and how and why it's changed since my day. Truth is, in emotional, rite of passage terms, not a lot. But social media has made it so much easier to connect with other fans, that it's much more tribal now.
I was also back on the This Morning sofa last week, talking about LATs. That's couples who are in a committed relationship but live apart. The atmosphere on the show is one of the best - it always feels like one big family. From the help-yourself-tea-and-toast of the Green Room, while rubbing shoulders with the stars to the kindness of Holly and Phil who always go the extra mile to make all their guests feel at ease.
I am also pleased to say for any of you singletons looking for love that I am now the Dating Coach for Attractive Partners - an excellent and personalised service for anyone looking to go beyond online dating as an option. And of course, just a reminder that I am still offering a 20% discount on all my coaching packages, Skype or face to face, for those who subscribe to my newsletter. Just let me know you subscribe when you drop me a line.
Right I am off to do some more clinical work for a very exciting PR campaign that I am working on - yes, shock horror, I actually do proper work other than just watching/tweeting about reality TV and/or popping up to give a media soundbite here and there. I know - whatever next?!
Until the next time - have a very Happy Vallie's Day, whether you're a believer or not...
- Happy New Year!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and are looking forward to a fabulous 2014!
I love Christmas, although it's a bit manic in my household with two out of three of us having a birthday on Christmas Day as well. That maybe the ultimate in bad timing...
Workwise that bit between late December and the first few days is always a quiet one, so when it does kick in with a vengeance on that first Monday back, it comes as a bit of a shock to my sluggish system. January is the month when online dating peaks, so lots of new clients. Not only singles. I coach couples too and it also happens to to be the month when the stresses and strains of Christmas take their toll on relationships too so plenty of couples counselling as well. It's a little known fact (mainly because I always forget to mention it!) that subscribers to my newsletter get a 20% discount on Dating Coaching or Couples Counselling, so if you want some advice, don't be shy. It's free to enquire...
With dating - especially online dating - being flavour of the month media wise (glad you guys finally woke up to this) as well as the peak month for online dating, I have been discussing it a LOT in the last week or so. Anywhere and everywhere from the Sunday Express to the BBC. And then of course Valentine's Day, certainly in press terms, comes hot on its heels so have written a few features already on that (one for Esquire just finished and pinged off) and a lot of PR, TV and radio work to come.
January is also that 'New Year, New You' month so have contributed a fair bit on that too, including a piece on the good, the bad and the seriously outdated classic self-help books that are still around for the Daily Telegraph. And of course celebrity news never goes away, so have commented on just how Katie Price might be feeling now Peter Andre has a new baby with someone else for Heat. Whatever she is feeling, the trouper will put a brave face on it... I even did a piece for Al Jazeera on sex and politics and why us voters always seem to forgive our cheating politicians. Seemed a bit racy for AJ, but hey, what do I know?
And today I was back on Daybreak with the always welcoming Aled Jones and Kate Garraway. I was chatting about gender specific toys and whether this is to be encouraged or not. It certainly sparked a bit of Twitter banter - always a good indicator of a provocative subject!
And finally, perhaps the best bit of New Year news. Celebrity Big Brother is back! And way more shocking than any other series that I can remember. When someone who has written the odd sex book or two is grizzling about their antics and longing for a decent squabble over the shopping list like the old days, it really must be something. I know the series is not to everyone's taste but I always find it addictive. And the perfect antidote to a dry(ish) Jan and a tough month spending wise.
Anyway, that's enough for now. A bit of work to finish off and then it's the weekend. Hurrah! Have fun.
- Wishing you a very happy Christmas...
I guess this will be my last newsletter this year, so I hope you're starting the Christmas wind down. I know a lot of you find this an especially stressful time of year - so much to do/organise and the temptation to overspend. And as I know from the big spike in couples counselling enquiries in January, it can have a major impact on your relationship too. Spending an unusually long amount of time with your partner, especially when Xmas can also be hard work, can take its toll. My advice? Try to bear with it, don't get too seduced by the 'perfect family' TV ads and allow yourself a bit of downtime...
It's been a surprisingly busy few weeks for me - given that December can be a quiet month, before it all goes crazy in January. And being self-employed, work can be seriously unpredictable, with little I can do to influence what comes in and when. I enjoyed going on Sky Sunrise with Eamonn Holmes to chat about the latest National Sex Survey. He always manages to put a slightly irreverent spin on such things ;-)
Have contributed to a few magazines and newspapers this month - all pretty seasonal stuff of course. Everything from the psychology of Christmas cards and keeping your sex life sizzling for Female First to why Brad and Angelina seem to fall over themselves to buy each other increasingly expensive and extraordinary Xmas pressies for Heat magazine.
And then of course Christmas just brings in the bizarre - a couple of features for the Daily Mail, one on why men are more than twice as likely to take selfies than women and the other on why a (seriously gross) Youtube of a woman squeezing a 25 year old blackhead has gone viral!
So, often a strange time of year for me - the light-hearted seasonal fare, mixed with prep for features and PR for January. Singles who want date coaching to maximise their opportunities for meeting someone at an Xmas party, while couple coaching goes very quiet, until after the Christmas holidays. Radio and TV about people who drink to excess, cheat on their partners and generally behave badly during December - and those who dread Christmas as they have little family or are seriously in debt. It's a time of extremes for sure. So wherever you maybe this Christmas and New Year, have both a peaceful and a merry time - and I look forward to being in touch in the New Year!